Does your life have vision?

Over the years, much of my identity has been wrapped up in what I did.  And then there came a day when I was completely over-committed, totally exhausted and I hated the task which I had willingly signed myself up to complete.  I realized (not at that exact moment – there was more exhaustion) it might be a good idea to step back and take a good look at my time commitments and what was really important in my life.  I made a bold and radical decision; say no to anything extra for an entire year.  (I did have to continue to work, cook, clean … it was all the extra time eaters… head a committee, organize a fundraiser, manage a special event.)  The time shackles that had once bound me came loose much easier than I would have imagined.  I found myself empowered by the word no.

Then a friend gave me an idea of writing a vision statement with my life goals – kind of like what a company would do with a mission statement.  She suggested three sentences or less and then paring it down to one simple sentence.  Much of what I had thought was so important was relinquished to the waste bin.  Upon completing the concise statement, I was able to refer back to it again and again when I was asked to take on something new.  How does what I am being asked to do fit into this vision and the goals I have for my life?  Do I really have the time right now to complete this task well?  The vision statement became a tangible way of helping me think through decisions of saying yes or no.  Amazingly, instead of limiting what I have done – it has opened up new opportunities.  By focusing on what I love and care deeply about, there is more passion (and energy) for the tasks I do volunteer to complete.

What about you?
Do you have a defining moment when you decided to say no to something?
A story you’d like to share about your own struggle with using the word no?
We learn from one another’s stories and I’d love to hear what you have learned about using this tiny, powerful word: no.   You can email me at mwhitlock@


Marlayne Whitlock, LAPC